Myopia in children is a growing concern, especially with so many kids learning virtually during the pandemic. Myopia is a disease where the eye grows too long, with the symptom being blurry distance vision. Studies show that myopia rates in children are increasing as kids spend less time outdoors and more time involved in near work like digital device use.
What many parents don’t know is that rapidly progressing myopia is more than just a hassle — it can harm your child’s eye health. Children with progressive myopia are far more likely to develop potentially sight-threatening eye diseases such as glaucoma, cataracts, and macular degeneration later in life.
Given the growing prevalence of myopia in children the media are taking notice. There have been a number of articles recently about this issue in the New York Times, Women Fitness and more locally here in Bay Area Moms and Macaroni Kid. These articles have great tips for parents. We recommended kids get outside at least 2-3 hours a day and take frequent breaks from screen use to help their vision. We also offer new myopia treatments, including customized contact lenses and prescription eye drops, that we can use to treat myopia. Our practice specializes in providing these treatments and offers myopia consultations to customize a treatment plan for each child.
What Causes Myopia to Progress?
Genetics play a large role in myopia development. Two nearsighted parents are more likely to have a myopic child than a couple with only one myopic parent, or no myopic parents at all.
No one knows exactly why myopia progresses, but spending most of the day indoors, focusing on near objects like screens and books, may be risk factors. More research is needed to determine whether the fact that children are spending less time looking at faraway objects like a moving baseball or a basketball net might be contributing to the increase in myopia cases around the world.
How Can I Prevent Myopia From Worsening?
One of the best pieces of advice for parents of nearsighted children is to increase their child’s outdoor playtime in the sun. In research studies, the progression of myopia was slower in children who spent a considerable amount of time in the sunshine than in children who did not.
The World Health Organization advises that children under 5 spend 1 hour or less per day in front of a screen, and no screen time is recommended for infants under 1. The Children’s Eye Foundation recommends outdoor play daily, and no screen time for children under 2. They also recommend no more than 1-2 hours per day for 2- to 5-year-olds, with frequent breaks.
How Can a Myopia Management Eye Doctor Help?
Myopia management eye doctors do more than prescribe corrective lenses. Although no actual cure for myopia exists, there are methods that can help control its progression. Like most treatments, myopia treatment in children is most effective when started early before a child is highly myopic. Our office partners with Treehouse Eyes, the country’s leading provider of myopia treatments for children. This Wall Street Journal article featured Treehouse Eyes in a recent article discussing the growing issue of childhood myopia.
Call us at 925-757-7676 or schedule an appointment online for your child today for a myopia consultation. We will assess your child’s vision and eye health, and recommend a treatment plan that will be right for your family.